Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hi-Yo Silver! Get 'Em Up Scout!

Me write 'em novel. You vote me best. Me sell soul to Amazon
Crowdsourcing Platform just didn't have the ring that Amazon needed for its new crowdsourcing platform.

From this day forward, writers---Get 'em up, Scout!

The initial buzz has become a reality and Amazon is now providing information on a new strategy to get itself into publishing. You might think that Amazon is a bit behind the times, given the considerable decline in popularity of the popularity contests that made Simon Cowell wealthy. For a time, it was thought to be a good way to assess talent, by having people perform and then letting the audience choose their favorite. If the public had what they wanted, the reasoning went, surely they would then buy what the talent produced.

As things turned out, the public did not support what they elected. Winners of past televised competitions could fill an entire "Where Are They Now?" programme.

But Amazon is not deterred. Their new addition will take that popularity contest and apply it to the written word. It will be called Kindle Scout.

No one is going to spend money on printing books that may not sell. An e-book is the most economical means to test the system and see if a popularity contest can result in a best-seller.

The author has to come up with the costly items, like a book cover and back copy that will intrigue and captivate readers. The author has to do the spell-checking and the editing, or pay an editor to do it. The writer has to create a logline and a short synopsis, which means the author has to have some powerful marketing skills. An extremely talented writer without those skills will lose the contest even though their novel is far superior. That's why authors want literary agents to represent them to the Big Five publishing houses. So if marketing isn't your thing, there's another expense for you.

Did no one at Amazon notice that their Breakthrough Novel Award hasn't produced any blockbuster best-sellers yet? But still the mighty behemoth pushes ahead, to do the same thing with digital books.

As was already described, the Scout scheme has an author competing against fellow authors to make the cut. They then have to convince their friends and friends of friends ad infinitum to choose their novel as the best of the bunch. The winner than gets to have their book published by Amazon Kindle, which you could do for free without going through the work of the selection process but everyone loves a competition.

The winner then sells their soul to Amazon in the form of a five year deal in which Amazon holds the rights. Again, you could keep the rights yourself if you just went and published the book yourself, but there's a temptation tossed in. Amazon will give the winner an advance of $1500. Sell more books than are covered by the advance on royalties and you'll be raking in the money.  That will be a lot of e-books.

What an author gains is what publicity Amazon will deliver to promote the contest and make it appealing to more authors who in turn bring in more of the public to Amazon's digital world. All it takes is one best-seller to get things going for Amazon, which has not shown any sort of success in its publishing ventures.

So get 'em Scout!

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